Beware when carrying cash

2018-07-19 06:00

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) advises all bank clients to be alert when carrying cash.

There was a 4% increase in incidents from 2016 to 2017; however, in January to June 2018 there was a 33% decrease, amounting to 709 and 478 incidents respectively in the same period. From January to June bank losses totalled just over R21m – a 5% decrease from last year.

“Our strong partnerships with the South African Police Service and the banking industry has contributed to this decrease in incidents, and we will continue to leverage on these partnerships to support investigations and ensure that perpetrators are brought to book. We are grateful to the SAPS and the banks for their continued support in the fight against these criminals,” says CEO of Sabric, Kaylyani Pillay.

Frequent crimes include victims being followed out of the bank branch and then after cash withdrawal at the ATM, victims are then followed by criminals to their home, workplace or other destination which makes them easier targets. In the case of bank branches, “spotters” communicate the victim’s description to their accomplices who wait outside of the bank. Owners of small businesses should be vigilant when withdrawing cash for weekly wages.

Associated robberies are not limited to urban areas, but also occur in rural areas across South Africa. Gauteng robberies were the highest, totalling 834 incidents in 2017 at 58%. Kwazulu-Natal, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, North West, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Free State and Northern Cape followed.

Among the incidents reported to Sabric between 2015 and January this year was a total of 52 stokvel robbery incidents. “It is very distressing that bank clients, who are the victims of stokvel and associated robberies are often injured or even killed during these incidents, which is why we urge them to find safer ways to transact, such as internet transfers or mobile banking, instead of carrying large amounts of cash,” says Pillay.

Tips for stokvel groupings are to refrain from making cash deposits of public members’ contributions on high-risk days; such as Mondays after month end; ensure individuals depositing club cash contributions or making withdrawals are accompanied by another club member.

A stokvel savings club or burial society can arrange for members to deposit cash directly into the club member’s account instead of collecting cash contributors. Money that is electronically transferred into members’ personal accounts should be accompanied by someone when depositing club cash contributions. When depositing club cash contributions, ensure that you are accompanied by another individual when money is electronically transferred into personal accounts­.

Pillay urges bank clients to be vigilant. It is possible to reduce the risk of becoming a victim by following these tips: For individuals, carry as little cash as possible; consider paying your accounts electronically (consult your bank about other available options); consider cellphone banking, internet transfers or ATMs to do banking.

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